Finally. Family vacation in Chicago again. I did not expect that I’d feel so much home there, as I then was.

We decided to choose a different time in the year, not in Summer. For once we did not want the dirt of election campaigns. And there was an eclipse waiting to happen. This also meant, I put in my vacation, and only then came the news that there’d be an XM anomaly in ingress. IN Chicago… I thought about flying there twice, but …. no… Life…..

So we went on Good Friday – early plane, 9 hour flight, landed in Chicago, and directly went to our apartment, to get some rest. The place was just South of an interstate but well noise protected. We had a small kitchen, enough rooms for all. There were a few destinations we had selected… But first of all we discovered the rectangular buses. Hop on a bus and stay along one of the super long East-West or North-South Streets. And this way you get everywhere. The area of our flat was a bit dilapidated and probably not 100% safe. I got catcalled a few times. However, I did my daily mile – and just looked at the parks etc which looked clean.

We visited the 606 which maybe is comparable to the Highline in New York – this is a former train bridge system which was remodeled to be a running and bike path. Very nice artwork along the sides, too. Very cool that they had free-to-use bike tools along the 606 – Kronau just introduced those and I was amazed that people seem to respect the tools and not vandalize them.

We went to Oak Park Conservatory – plants, parrots and more plants. For it was Easter Sunday, most shops in Oak Park were closed, however, there was Cajun Food and it was absolutely delicious.

Another place we visited was a museum for Native American Art. The pieces I liked most are here in the blog: one is pure Physics, because an etched picture on glass or plexi with a projecting lamp on top, hanging from the ceiling made for an excellent artwork. The persons fitted into geological structures, I really liked that composition, too.

I did a daily mile every morning. I had recursed in ingress, meaning set my level to zero, for Chicago had so much useless red Machina gunk that I thought, points should be enough to get a full recursion by removing and reclaiming red… Of course I did not optimize like some of the hard core players do. Yes I spent a few lucky-eggs-eh-Apices, but I have never wanted to play for AP for the game plays for MU – Mind units which are aligned to your faction.

One of those trips around the neighborhood I ended up taking the bus back, and waited in front of the police station where the footprints in the concrete reminded me of the gypsum footprints we used for our detective workshop.

One day we split up. It rained, meaning this was no day for too much outdoors, so Z and C. and I went to the museum for surgical history. A museum I had wanted to go to for many many years and always someone else wanted to go somewhere else. From an Iron Lung machine, a history of vaccinations, to the history of unrecognized female doctors and researchers – there was a huge lot of interesting things. I got me a brain cell in the gift store…(plush though. Not functional)

V and M went to Lincoln Park Zoo – to the indoors facilities. We joined them later, and again stayed indoors. The whole time the weather went Zig Zag, and we weren’t sure if the eclipse would be visible. Later we all met up and had lunch together.

One day I went to the Science Surplus to get eclipse glasses, nevertheless. No risk here. Eyes are important. Well, this store had zillions of other interesting things…

Z and I went to the museum of ancient cultures which is situated inside the university campus. I never knew that Cuneiform looked so unreadable. And that ancient people used lockpicks. In this museum one could have spent multiple time to understand language development but also our one visit was super interesting. On the way back poor BlueDino had to tip over a building close to the university.

No pictures from an amazing gaming evening with our friends. We meet digitally but we also met face to face now and thoroughly enjoyed it.

On Friday we rented a car which we needed to drive downstate to see the sun vanishing. Nicely our Full Size was upgraded into a minivan, and so we all hopped in, dropped C at the station to go by Amtrak to visit her friend.

We went to Fort Wayne to stay overnight, and visited the science museum there. This was the next museum who put the Arts into STEM making it a STEAM place. They showed quilts and community quilts next to natural science experiments.

In Fort Wayne we found an excellent Ice cream place which hid an excellent chicken place. So we splurged.

And then came „travel-to-Kokomo day“ Kokomo was the town I had selected to stay the night before and the night after the eclipse. Just because I did not want to sit hours and hours in a traffic jam on the way back. Been there in 2017.

We had booked two motel rooms, and the next day we set out in the car. We had breakfast in a wonderful family diner, and then were found traveling a bit South toward New Castle which was promised to have a whooping four minutes of no-Sun. New Castle made it a Carnival fair. There was a whole eclipse market, Dragons (not yet having swallowed the Sun – and anyway, wasn’t it a dinosaur?) T-Shirts, Treats and more. We drove a bit on, wanting to use a State Park parking lot. Security sent us to the next state park so eventually I found us a nice roadside spot where we parked, unpacked picknick and waited. More people passing by, some taking our idea that this was a nice spot.

And then. Bit for bit it became night. Like sunset all around us. Gratefully we had the screens, and I could take a few pictures of the vanishing Sun. I shared my viewer with one of the guys just having parked. No reason for damaged eyesight.

Then the Sun made sure we knew She was there. We had calm roads back to our motel. The next morning we found yet another breakfast place – in Kokomo. Visited the giant praying mantis, and found our way to Kalamazoo, where Z wanted to attend a concert and where a friend of ours lives.

In Kalamazoo we found a hotel to stay, Z. went to her Mountain Goats‘ concert after we had some good Greek dinner. I even found some time to jump into their pool. Next day we spent the morning in the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, an aviation museum. Later we called on our friends, and had an evening with excellent conversations, good food, some Scrabble, and a lot of catching up. Unfortunately V was somewhat sick and could not enjoy that much. My friends‘ son came later, and he was impressing me how he is vreating textile art and makes it a point of selling those items.

We went along the lakefront, stopped at the Sarett Nature Center, who has sofas at a big window to observe squirrels (first) and birds (next). One of the staff had some time to explain the different birds to us and it was an interesting afternoon. Later, we found yet another simple hotel to stay. Z and I went for food while M and V devoured their leftovers. My daily mile got me into a natural park – nice place again.

Aaand back to Chicago. We returned the car to the rental place. Emptied out everything but only could check into the next apartment by 15:00, so we had some breakfast at the riverfront downtown, and then sat down there, observing river, people, watching our luggage of course.

While we sat there, of course one mirror picture had to be produced. I also went on my daily mile having the rest of the family watch the luggage. Mister Goose was very aggressively protecting his space, no dog was allowed and many a dog owner took a detour. A few portals wer caught, a few Pokemon as well.

M and I went to a running race, the Wine Blossom 5k and he made the first place in his age group. Not even half a year after breaking his femur – not bad ­čÖé The next few days we spent visiting downtown, another go at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Just strolling, visiting, and also visiting the James Bond Science exhibition at the Museum for Science and Industry.

My favorite Bond car was there. Also the story boards of the movie, the artistic visualization, e.g. for Goldfinger’s room with the big laser. This as well as a few good science demonstrations. Also here – STEAM, not STEM. Artwork of underserved artists.

The next day we went to Mindworks, an exhibit of the IC Psychology department and we wanted to visit the Chicago Design Museum. We helped as test guinea pigs with one or two studies and after noticing that the Design museum was remodeling, we went to the Chicago Community Center. However, the director let me up the stairs to take a few pics of the flags hanging in the hallway.

Then there still was the museum of Mexican Art. – this was in walking distance of our apartment. This apartment was nice and big, and we even had a table for gaming with our friends. Yet the nights were occupied by celebrating neighbors whos bass drum sound shook the whole house. In the evening I hopped in the train North to attend a CPS/PNW meeting, exchanging physics ideas for classes. Weighing electricity was one of my favorites.

Slowly. Slowly our vacation ended much too quickly… Packing day. A last daily mile. Lying down at Harrison Park inmid of my adopted running track, for a selfie. Taking pictures of wall art. Pilsen, our neighborhood was full of this. One dinner with our friend from Kalamazoo. One evening of board games and card games. And then – Off to O’Hare. Good bye, old home, I’ll be back if Mister Orange lets me.

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